LAREDO, Texas–Two Mexican nationals pleaded guilty Thursday to attempting to illegally smuggle 652 assault rifle magazines into Mexico.
Julio Cesar Flores-Martinez, 46, and Francisco Padilla-Perez, 41, both Mexican nationals, pleaded guilty July 19 before U.S. District Judge Diana Saldana.
According to court documents, on April 19, HSI obtained information that a person, believed to be a Mexican firearms buyer, was trying to obtain high-capacity AK-47 rifle magazines from the United States. Undercover special agents posed as firearm magazine suppliers and contacted the buyer, later identified as Padilla-Perez, who requested 650 high-capacity AK-47 rifle magazines. Padilla-Perez told the special agents he would pay $19,500 cash for the rifle magazines. He then instructed special agents to deliver the magazines to a Mexican truck driver from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, who would attempt to smuggle them into Mexico via one of the international bridges in Laredo, Texas. Flores-Martinez was the truck driver.
Padilla-Perez and the undercover special agents met with Flores-Martinez. Flores-Martinez received nine black suitcases containing 652 high capacity AK-47 rifle magazines and hid them in the cab of his truck while Padilla-Perez observed from nearby. After Flores-Martinez finished loading, Padilla-Perez then handed the special agents a white plastic bag containing $19,500 in cash.
Flores-Martinez drove to the World Trade Bridge where U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers recovered the 652 high-capacity rifle magazines. The magazines are made for 7.62x39mm ammunition and designed for use with AK-47-type assault rifles. Each magazine is designed to hold 30 rounds of the rifle ammunition.
Flores-Martinez and Padilla-Perez have been in custody since their arrest, where they will remain pending sentencing at a date to be determined in the near future. They each face sentences up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.